Saturday, June 30, 2012

Oldies But Goodies... One Last Time


Cast Iron 
(Originally published 04/18/2011)

I love my cast iron skillet.  It was a hand-me-down from Derek's mom.  I feel that used cast iron cookware is usually better than new because it's already been seasoned, so I don't have to mess with any of that business.  I love to use my skillet for upside-down cakes, cornbread, and elementary home defense.

Perhaps I should explain.

Derek was gone on a business trip last week.  This meant I had to hold down the fort for a few days by myself.  Fortunately, it was warm and beautiful outside, so I let the kids run themselves into exhaustion in the backyard every afternoon.  This gave us all space during the day, and they slept soundly at night.

My nights, however, were a different story.

After I finally get the older two kiddos into bed, I bounce Caedmon around for awhile before laying him down.  Peruse the bookshelves for something to re-read because I haven't been to the library in a while.  Settle into the rocking chair in the living room.  Immerse myself in a favorite story.

Hear strange sounds.  Outside the window.  In the basement.  Upstairs.  In the laundry room.

I concentrate harder on the book and tell myself it's just the house settling.  It is, after all, an old house, and after 111 years on this earth I think she's earned the right to creak a bit.  Even if it does cause minor cardiac episodes in the chest of her owner.

After an hour or so of this, I put down my book, tidy up a bit downstairs.  Load the dishwasher, wipe down the high chair.  Grab the cast iron skillet out of the kitchen cabinet and carry it upstairs with me.

I wash up in the bathroom, change into my pajamas.  Nestle the skillet into Derek's side of the bed.

I really feel at this point that I should explain something.  I don't have a weird skillet fetish.  This piece of cookware just happens to be my weapon of choice- I need something in reaching distance when an intruder takes advantage of Derek's absence and breaks into the house.  We don't have any guns, and knives are out -our children often climb into the bed to wake me up in the morning.  Plus cast iron has a nice, reassuring heft to it.  I need two hands to lift it any higher than shoulder- height, (I had to practice, didn't I?) so it's pretty heavy.

I may or may not have read Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe one too many times.

And seen the movie once or twice.

But I promise, if I ever do whack the boogie man over the head with my skillet, I will not chop him up and serve him to you barbeque-style.

Although I do think Head Country barbeque sauce could make just about anything taste good.  Maybe the secret really is in the sauce.

I did not end up having to use the skillet in a defensive capacity.  Derek returned home, and I returned the pan to the cabinet, where it will stay until I make an apple cake.

Or my husband leaves again.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Oldies But Goodies... Yet Again


The Joker
(Originally published 05/31/2011)

I am terrible at faking laughter.

It either sounds like I'm forcing a few wheezy chuckles out, or I get too enthusiastic and sound like I'm mocking someone.  This isn't much of an issue in my daily life- I've learned that if I don't think something is funny, I just have to smile politely, even if everyone else is laughing uproariously.

A new problem has arisen.  Adelaide has started telling jokes.  They're not funny.

"Knock, knock."  Just those two words are enough to make my heart sink.  Being her mother, however, it falls under my realm of responsibility to play along.  So I reply, "Who's there?"


"Adelaide who?"

"Adelaide Crisler!"

First I try the restrained chuckle:  "Heh heh heh heh heh."

She's not convinced, however.  "Didn't you think that was funny, Mommy?"

"You know, honey, humor is such a subjective thing..."  I try not to lie to her, but I also don't want to hurt her feelings.

So she tries again.  "Knock knock."

"Who's there?"

"Candle made out of lightning."

"Candle made out of lightning who?"


"HA HA HA HA HA HA!"  I try to mask my bewilderment by laughing like I've just heard the joke of the century.  What kind of punchline is 'cheese', anyway?

I'm starting to think I've pulled it off, that maybe my fake laughter muscles are getting a little more toned, when Adelaide raises her eyebrows, looks at me sideways, and asks, "Mommy, what are you doing?"

"I'm laughing at your joke."

"That's not laughing- that's a weird yelling sound.  You kind of sound like you're hurt."


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oldies But Goodies... Again


Snips and Snails and Puppy-Dogs' Tails
(originally published 2/22/2011)

I remember reading several articles, before I had children, about how boys and girls are just the same- it's all in how you raise them.  These authors and so-called "experts" contended that if you give your little girls Tonka trucks and your little boys Barbie dolls, they will all display similar behavior and essentially blur the line between the sexes.  I was skeptical but, not having any children of my own, and having grown up in a house where three girls ruled a land of Barbies, ballet shoes, and glitter, I was open to the possibility that what these people said was true.

My daughter does play with trucks.  She uses them to cart her dolls to and from their dance recitals.

My son does play with Barbies.  He hurls their maimed carcasses against the walls and laughs hysterically.

I have decided that there is a distinct possibility that those people are full of malarkey.

Another interesting difference between my son and daughter is this:

Notice the distinct bulge in the pocket region of my son's jeans.  I never had to check Adelaide's pants before I threw them in the washer.  Now, if I don't check every pocket of every pair of Atticus's pants, at the end of a wash cycle, I will remove all the clothes and find the bottom of the washer tub littered with toys, rocks, and other detritus.

I often bring Atticus into the laundry room so I can ask him about the contents of his pockets.  Here's how our conversation went this morning.

Me:  (Holding up the phone) "Hey, Atticus, what's this?"
A:  "Dat's my cell phone."
Me:  (Holding up the penguin)  "And what's this?"
A:  "Dat's a penguin."
Me:  (Holding up the piece from the game Connect Four)  "What's this?"
A:  "Dat's a quarter."
Me:  (Holding up the piece from the game Hi-Ho Cherry-O)  "What's this?"
A:  "That's a apple."
Me:  (Holding up the car)  "What's this?"
A:  "Dat's a car.  A gween car!"
Me:  (Holding up the star)  "And what's this?"
A:  "Dat's a sar!  Here, I wight it fer you."

He then pushes the button on the back that makes it light up.

What I really love about going through the contents of his pockets is how it shows me that even at the age of two, he has a life entirely separate from me.  We spend all day together, but I rarely catch him sneaking things into his pockets.  What, in his mind, qualifies as pocket-worthy material?  Why this rather than that?

I must confess that I'm a little concerned about what I'll be finding in his pockets come spring when we all start spending more time outside.  I did not react well last week when I happened upon a small mound of dead lady bugs' shells in one pair of khakis.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oldies But Goodies, Part II


Wanna See A Grown Man Cry?
(Originally Published 03/31/2011)

Tell him you have a new potato soup recipe you're going to try.  You've had it recently when your sister made it, and it was delicious.  Describe to him just how creamy, cheesy, bacony, potato-ey this soup is.  Promise him he'll love it.

Make sure he knows the day you're going to make it so that he can come home good and hungry.  Make sure it looks and smells great when he walks in the door, exactly as you told him it would.

Now instead of making the soup with real bacon, use turkey bacon.  And watch the tears fall fast and thick.

Aw, I'm just kidding.  He didn't really cry.  In fact, in nearly seven years of marriage, I don't think I've ever seen Derek cry.  I believe the closest he's come was right after Adelaide was born.  When I was in the hospital and getting ready to deliver her, he planted himself firmly by my head and turned his face away from the action.  After she arrived and they announced, "It's a girl!" I thought his eyes looked a little overbright.  Mistakenly thinking he was choked up with emotion at the birth of our firstborn, I asked, "So, what do you think?"  He shattered my previous notions when he shook his head and muttered, "I think my peripheral vision is too good."

Poor, traumatized Derek.  All he wanted was to sit in the waiting room, handing out cigars.

Okay, I'm officially off track.  Where was I?

Oh, yes.  Turkey bacon and the red-headed stepchild of potato soups.

So instead of crying, your husband will eat more than one bowl of this ugly cousin to your sister's real potato soup.  Because he is, in fact, a good husband.

To make up for the soup, push back your nightly walk and bake a batch of your delicious peanut butter cookies.

Go for your evening constitutional.  Walk four miles instead of your usual three because you ate no less than a dozen of those warm, delectable cookies.

Return home.  Thank your husband for staying home with the kids so you could get some fresh air and strengthen your often tenuous hold on sanity.

The next day, cook up the rest of that false bacon for your children.  Then vow never to allow that abomination into the house again.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Oldies But Goodies

I've decided that I'm not going to write any new posts this week, in part because it's looking to be a super busy week, and because I just don't feel like it.  I thought about talking about how it's hot outside and the lazy days of summer and blah blah blah, but I'm going to go ahead and give you all (say it with me, now: y'all) the benefit of the doubt and assume you're smart enough not to fall for all that.  Because the truth is, I just don't have much interesting to say right now.

Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, let me tell you that I will be posting some older posts, perhaps ones you've missed.  I'll try to put a new one on here every day, so if anything, at least the posts will be more frequent than usual.

See you in a week!

Note To Self 
(originally published 09/15/2011)

Dear Kristy,

I know how much you love to save money.

No, really.  I do.

Sometimes, however, there have to be limits.  One of those limits exists within the realm of buying shoes for your children.  I know you hate overpaying for clothing, and you often feel that children's shoes are overpriced.  I know that you will search many different stores trying to find a pair that will be reasonably priced, yet do not look like something you would find in Quasimodo's wardrobe.

I know that when you find that pair, you will be delighted to have found something cute and somewhat inexpensive.  What you should do then, is go ahead and purchase that pair of shoes, but here's the kicker (pun intended):  Buy it in the correct size.

Don't stare thoughtfully at the shoes and think to yourself, You know, I could save even more money if I bought these suckers a size bigger.  And let's be honest here, your children are heavy on the Crisler genes, which means they're growing and jumping sizes faster than you can keep up.  That next size is only slightly too big right now, and she'll have grown into them in a couple months. 

I know that the bigger size won't bother your daughter, for whom you are buying these shoes.  She'll just be delighted with the abundance of silver sequins and pink canvas.  She won't care that they're just a tad too big, just enough to have some extra room out past her toes.

She won't think about the fact that along with her fast-growing Crisler genes, she has also inherited a healthy dose of your extreme- klutziness genes.

I'm trying to give you a fair warning, here, self:  If you do buy those roomier shoes, expect a call the very next morning from the school nurse, reporting that your daughter was found by a teacher, huddled against a locker in the hallway, crying, face covered in blood.  A mere thirty minutes after donning those sparkly bargains for the first time, the she'll-grow-into-them toes of her shoes will cause her to trip on the industrial carpet lining the hallway to her classroom, she'll fall flat onto her face, and split her lip.  A kindly teacher will escort her to the nurse's office, who will clean her up and calm her down.

Then, when the nurse is walking her back to classroom, Adelaide will trip again.  The nurse will discover it's because her shoes are too big.  She'll have your daughter change into her PE shoes (which fit perfectly).  Then she'll call you to let you know about her little incident, and to let you know that it was really all your fault for being such a cheapskate.  (The nurse will never actually say that.  Your conscience is more than capable of throwing that little barb.)

So please, buy footwear in the right size.  Don't make your daughter pay for your mistake with her blood.

Feeling a Little Dramatic Today,


P.S.  Oh, and for crying out loud, teach your daughter to tie her shoes already.  You'd have a lot more shoe options if you weren't limited to velcro and straps.

Update:  It only took Adelaide two months to grow into that dangerous pair of shoes- which means it's almost time to buy her some new ones.  But I still haven't taught her how to tie her shoes.  You'd think I'd learn.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No Yellow Polka Dots Here, Not To Mention Any Itsy-Bitsy-Ness

Does anyone besides me find swimsuit shopping to be painful?

I'm pretty sure the last piece of swimwear I got was six years ago, shortly after Adelaide was born, and that was only because our condo complex had a pool, I was determined to get our money's worth from our condo fees, and my mom offered to buy it.

Since then, I've been making do with a hand-me-down one-piece that was my mom's; the only problem is, my mom is four inches taller than me and I'm pretty sure its all in her torso.  The suit is one of halter styles that ties around the back of the neck, and I have to pull it so far up that it looks like my collar bone has boobs.

Swim suit shopping has never exactly been fun, even when I went by myself.  I'd don the swimsuit, look in the mirror of the dressing room, and my brain would go straight into the offensive.

Pretty sure its not supposed to be so tight right here, I'd think.

 Also sure its not supposed to be so baggy right there.

So... horizontal stripes are not my friends.  Nor are violently pink hibiscus flowers plastered across my derriere.  

That's it.  I'm never going swimming again.

So I've put off buying a new swimsuit for several years.  I've been mostly able to avoid pools over the last few years; when you have a six, three, and one year old, pools aren't as much summertime-swimmy-fun as they are yawning death traps.  We're going to a water park this weekend, however, and plan on visiting a pool with friends next week. 

Hence my trip to finally buy a swimsuit a few days ago.  

I ignored Adelaide's attempts to press several brightly colored bikinis on me and tried to pick out whatever suit would neither make me look like a hooker nor a ninety year old woman, which was difficult because Atticus kept positioning bikini tops over his eyes and yelling, "Look at my goggles!"

I made a few hasty choices and shepherded our three angels into the dressing room with me.

Caedmon was confused as to what this small room was and what we were doing there, and so proceeded to spend the next five minutes yelling, "POTTY?  POTTY?  POTTY? POTTY?"

Atticus gave all our fellow changing room inhabitants a play-by-play of what was going on in our particular room:  "MOM!  Why are you taking your shirt off?  Why are you taking your shoes off?  Why are you taking your shorts off?  ARE YOU GOING TO BE NAKED?"  For the record, I kept my undergarments on, both because I didn't want swimsuit cooties and because I didn't want to scar our children.

Adelaide squealed and covered her eyes and giggled and said fun things like, "EW!  This is so gross.  Why do I have to see this?  This is just gross."

I quickly made a selection, got dressed, checked out, and staggered out of the store.

And decided I miss the critical voices in my head.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Questionnaire

It's Father's Day!  What have all of you done to celebrate the fathers in your life?

Derek got to open a couple gifts, including multiple Father's Day cards made by Adelaide.

We also began what I hope will be a continuing Father's Day tradition.  I, unfortunately, have a memory like a rusty sieve, and the chances of my remembering to do this every year are somewhat slim.  I also, however, have a blog, and since I'm recording the idea here, perhaps I will remember to do it next year.  All I have to do is remember to look back at the blog around this time next year.  Which is not good.  (See rusty sieve simile above.)

But just in case 2013 Kristy remembers to check back, here's the fun little Father's Day Questionnaire I posed to our two older children this year:

(Note:  Atticus's answers in red.)

All About My Daddy
By Atticus, Age 3

My Daddy's name is Derek.

He is 2 feet 3 inches tall.  He's tall.

He weighs 3 pounds.

His hair color is gray.

His favorite tv show is scary things.

He likes to go to B-Bop's and Hickory Park to eat ice cream.

His favorite food is marshmallow stars.

His favorite drink is coffee.

For fun my Daddy likes to play blocks.

I love it when Daddy plays blocks with me.

My favorite thing about my Daddy is watching tv.


Note: Adelaide's answers in pink.

All About My Daddy
By Adelaide, Age 6

My Daddy's name is Derek.

He is 6 feet 19 inches tall.

He weighs 60 pounds.

His hair color is grayish brown.

His favorite tv show is Channel 12.

He likes to go to Hickory Park.

His favorite food is bagels.

His favorite drink is iced tea.

For fun my Daddy likes to golf.

I love it when Daddy spends time with me.

My favorite thing about my Daddy is how much he loves me.


Just to clear a few thing up:  Derek is not 2 feet, 3 inches tall, but as Atticus said, he is pretty tall- 6 ft, 5 in.  So I guess our son's answer to that one wasn't too outrageous.  Derek does not, however, weigh 3 pounds; nor does he weigh 60 pounds- he weighs a little more than that.  His hair color is kind of a dark blonde, and his favorite tv show would be live NFL games.  He is not a coffee drinker, but he does like to golf.  

I had a lot of fun doing this, and the idea is to re-question them each year and see how their answers change.  I think I'm going to put these in a binder and try really hard not to lose it by this time next year.  

Happy Father's Day!

Note:  I got this idea from this website via Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The 'F' Word

Last night, after her bath, Adelaide and I spent some time together in her room talking.  We talked about books and her future and lots of other fun things.  At one point, she went into the bathroom to get something, and came back with a pair of leggings.

"Mom, I left these in the bathroom because when I tried to put them on, I couldn't get them up past my knees."

"Oh, they're too small?  I'll wash them and get them ready to send on to Aria."

That's when she said it.  The 'F' word.  (Not that 'F' word.  Jeez, people, she's six.)

"MOM!  Did you just call me fat?"

Fat.  Fat.  FAT.

I was taken aback and aghast and bewildered.  Where did she get that?

Like just about every other red-blooded American women, I've got my own peculiar set of body image issues, but I have been very, very careful not communicate so much as a hint of those to Adelaide.  I have never asked, "Does this make me look fat?"  I have never talked about the need to lose or gain weight, being unhappy with the way I look, nothing.  I try to speak in terms of health, and on the few occasions when I have rejected a certain item of clothing, I put it in terms like, "It's not flattering on me," trying to be clear that every one is a different shape, and that's okay.

And yet here she is, a newly minted six year old, accusing me of calling her fat.

It's at about this time that I want to scrub her name off the public school's enrollment and set up our own little homeschooling venture.  I want to take her to church and home again and never anywhere else.  I want to hand-pick all her friends and never let her so much as speak to anyone who might have a negative impact on her life.

Sometimes I overreact a tiny bit.

I know of a couple little girls she goes to school with who are already all about clothes and looking a certain way.  One of them is slated to be in her class this fall, and I have already her say some very specific and not exactly Kristy-approved things to our daughter and other girls.  Let's just say she's not the sweetest little thing you've ever met.  Let's actually say she's a horrid little creature and I don't want our daughter anywhere near her.

I didn't say any of this out loud, of course; I instead firmly told her that I did not care for that statement, and we talked about how people's bodies can change based on how much they eat, what they eat, and how much they exercise.  I also reinforced the fact that our focus is not to be on someone's outside appearance- including our own.

Of course, she listened and participated in our discussion; she always does.  The problem is that, in the past, I could generally rely on Adelaide's flightiness and in her pretty-much-lives-in-her-own-little-world-ness to insulate her against what are apparently hot topics in Kindergarten, like what clothes you should be wearing and whether or not someone is fat- you know, at the age of five.  She is apparently more aware than I had thought, however, and some of that poison has been getting through.

After our discussion- including Adelaide's healthy, thoughtful responses- I calmed down quite a bit.  She obviously doesn't see herself as "fat," and clearly isn't too focused on her appearance.

But I'm still keeping homeschooling in the back of my mind.  And a petty (if satisfying) vendetta against a certain little girl.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm Trying To Freaking Love You

We have now completed our first week in our whole "Fruits of the Spirit" theme our family has going on this summer.  We had some great discussion and activities, along with some... unexpected social consequences.

The first fruit listed is "Love," fortunately a pretty straightforward concept for our little ones- I'm still not sure what I'm going to do about the rather vague notion of "Goodness."  I'm sure God had us in mind when he was setting down an order for the fruits.  Because, you know, it's all about us.

We started by defining love as best we could, and that first day we talked about expressing love within our home.  At the supper table that evening, we went around the table, each family member telling one thing they loved about each person.  Adelaide's were pretty well-thought-out; Atticus said, "I love Caedmon because he's sticky."  I'm not always sure that I'm getting through to that boy.

Next, we talked about showing love to family and friends outside of our family.  Each kid colored several pictures, and we mailed them off to various family members.  The day after that, we talked about ways to love strangers and the world at large.  We acted out skits that put the kiddos in different social settings; in one they were diners at a restaurant and I was the waitress, in another we were in a busy grocery store, in yet another we were on a playground with some difficult children.

They also colored various worksheets I printed for them depicting biblical scenes of loving your neighbor, and we brainstormed some ideas of things to do that would show love to people this summer.

Adelaide soaked it all up, Caedmon was just happy to be included, and Atticus participated better on some days than on others.  I really didn't know how much he was taking away from all our lessons until this morning, as we were walking into the public library.  There was a lady walking down the sidewalk toward us, also about to approach the front door.  Atticus darted in front of all of us, opened the heavy front door for her to walk through, then turned around to look at her while holding the door open, beaming.

She sailed through without so much as looking at him.

This did not fit in with our teaching from last week, and he let me know.


She never did turn around, although several other patrons sure did.

I would have scolded him for yelling in the library, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  How many times have I done the exact same thing, and it was all I could do not to give a snide, "You're welcome!" when the other person didn't so much as acknowledge my presence, let alone express their thanks.  Common courtesy, manners, and politeness were a big part of our lesson in loving people in our everyday lives last week, just because I feel like a kind word to a complete stranger can go a long way.

This week's lesson is "Peace."  I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to convey this fruit to our kiddos, as well as how Atticus will use it to further ostracize our family in public.

I'm actually really looking forward to it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde

It's interesting how when Adelaide and I spend lots of time together, it brings out the extremes in both of us.

Most of the time, I love to be with Adelaide.  She's funny and smart and I'm always wondering what she's going to say.  We tend to laugh a lot and generally have a great time together.

When we're not having a great time, we don't just have kind-of-okay time or mediocre time; we have I'm-so-frustrated-with-you-that-you-just-need-to-get-away-from-me time.

Sometimes Adelaide just wakes up in a bad mood.  It's really not that often, but frequently enough to make me cringe at the thought of her teenage years.  And okay, maybe I do, too, but I'm generally better at hiding it.  She's not.  She'll burst into tears if we're out of orange juice, crying, "But I need my Vitamin C!"  She started sobbing the other day when I mistakenly placed her toast on her brother's plate, then told her to eat it anyway.  I think her exact words- between tearful heaves- were, "But then I'll get his germs and I just know they'll KILL ME!"

There's a very slight possibility that I'm not helping matters.  I try to stay calm and internalize any eye-rolling, but if she's having one of those days, I am done by lunchtime.  About that time of day, I start making jokes.  Because that's how I deal with things.  I make a joke out of it.

Take yesterday.  By 11 am I was really pushing liquids onto our daughter because I knew she had to be dehydrated from all the crying she'd been doing.  Finally, after she ran from the room bawling, "That's how it works with roosters!" (it's a long story), I composed a little song.  The title was, "I Have The Most Emotional Daughter In The World," and it was sung to the tune of "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon.  Two verses in, I was feeling much better.

Or yesterday at around 4:30 pm.  She was getting all worked up about something and dramatically said, "Don't you know that I have two eyes that see?" (another long story), and I lightly replied, "And here I thought you'd been using echolocation to get around all these years."

The problem is, she seems to take these jokes personally, saying I'm making fun of her.  I really don't know where she'd get that idea.

I'm not sure what else to do, though.  The only three other options that come to mind are 1) Get angry, 2) Soothe her, or 3) Ignore her.  I'm really not okay with 1, because I'm the adult here and need to be the one showing some self-control; I feel like option 2 would only increase the undesirable behavior, and I'm really not good at giving fake sympathy, and make no mistake: it would be fake; and option 3 just doesn't feel right.

So, any suggestions from the peanut gallery?  Because if this continues, the next 12 years or so are going to be very emotional.  But hilarious.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


As I've mentioned before, I like to go for walks most evenings.  Sometimes a friend or two will tag along, but most of the time I'm walking alone.

One of my favorite places to walk is the nearby Heart of Iowa Trail.  I can jump on just a couple blocks from our house, and usually follow it for a couple miles before turning around and heading back home.  It's mostly shaded and almost completely solitary.  I rarely see more than one or two people while walking.

Last night, at about eight o'clock, I was on the trail, nearing the end of my walk.  I had just crested a small hill and was about to cross a street that intersects the part of the trail that goes through town.  And that's when I saw it:  fog.

It feels like lately I've been reading all kind of things about the need for spontaneity and living in the moment and carpe diem, and while I usually chalk all that up to a bunch of hippie crap, I decided maybe I should try to do small amounts of that kind of thing.  See, I'm really not at all spontaneous, and I tend to majorly stress out when plans are changed at the last minute.  Basically I'm the funnest person you've ever met.  Also, I use words like 'funnest.'

So when the urge to speed up and run through that fog seized me, I obeyed the whim.  After all, what's more fun and frolicsome than running through a low-lying cloud?

I had just reached the deepest, most dense part of the mist, and was actually really enjoying myself, when I opened my mouth to laugh.  And realized that the fog tasted nasty.

Then my eyes started to burn.

Then my notoriously unreliable nose registered a chemical smell.

It was about that point that a I saw a truck pull around the corner, a big machine of some sort in its bed, spewing a blanket of the noxious cloud over our little town.

I had been romping through a cloud of mosquito repellant.  No wonder my lungs felt tight.

The good news is, I didn't get a single mosquito bite last night!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Let's Hope This Works

The kids and I have enjoyed exactly three days of summer vacation so far.  They've been good days, mostly spent outside, but I can already tell I'm going to need to impose a little structure on the chilluns, lest we all morph into lazy bums by August.  Really tan lazy bums.

I've got a few ideas, but sometimes I'm not exactly the best at follow-through, so I'm going to share a couple of them here in the hopes that either:  A) You all will help keep me accountable or B) I'll be spurred on by the simple shame of having told everyone I was going to do awesome stuff with my kids and then not actually doing it.  Whatever works.

I recently read a fantastic book (which I will be posting a review of on the Books page here in the next couple days) about a mother of five who decided that she was tired of catering to her spoiled children and spent a full year teaching them to work: cleaning the house, cooking family meals, running household errands, etc.  My first response was a little, ahem, extreme, but after all the ideas I'd gleaned from the book had been marinating in the cerebrospinal fluid around my brain (okay, sorry, that was kind of gross) for awhile, I started getting some pretty good ideas for our kids for this summer.  The first one I'm going to try implementing is going to involve the Fruits of the Spirit, as defined in Galatians 5:22-23:  "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  Against such things there is no law."

You see, lately I've been noticing a small change in Adelaide.  More scowling, speaking to her brothers, Derek, and I in disrespectful tones, ingratitude.  She hasn't been doing any of these things a whole lot, and it tends to be when she's already tired or cranky, but it's been enough to make me sit up and notice.  Of course we've been talking to her about it, disciplining when necessary, but I'm kind of tired of feeling like we're the ones on defense, and this definitely feels like behavior I want to nip in the bud.  Adelaide has always been our easy child; obviously not perfect, but generally obedient and good-natured.

Enter my little plan.  In the book, the mother adds a new cleaning task or way to serve the family each month; this summer, the kids and I will be discussing a different "fruit" each week.  We'll start Monday, and this first week we'll be discussing Love.  We'll talk about what love is, how we can show it to others- both within our household and without- etc.  I have a fun little fruit-themed craft planned that we will add to each week as we add on different fruits.

 I keep reading about how the best way to keep weeds out of your lawn is to have thick, healthy grass growing.  I'm hoping that by really focusing on these fruits with Adelaide and her brothers, we'll plant enough good, healthy beliefs and behavior to help weed out some of those less desirable attitudes that have been cropping up.  I do plan on doing a little update post at the end of each week so you can see how it's going, and also to keep the accountability/shame part of it in effect.

That's my biggest plan so far.  We have a book of science experiments for kids (thanks, Stacie and Grant!) that I'd like to work through this summer, and I'm going to try and be purposeful about assigning Adelaide some simple math problems each week.  Oh, and books.  Lots and lots of books.  And probably some story-writing.  And I'm already starting to feel overwhelmed.

Now, for those of you who have stuck with me clear to end of this long post, here is your reward:

Last night, as I was trying to stuff Caedmon into his pajamas that may be just a teensy bit too small, Atticus was talking about the relative merits of certain parts of his anatomy- this fascination appears to start young in the male of our species.  At one point, he paused, looking quizzically at one of his toys, and asked me, "Mom, why does Linda have a pee-pee on her head?"

Then I almost died.

Because Linda is a unicorn.